Additional Considerations for Special Education

Additional Considerations for Special Education

Students Who Receive Special Education Services in K-12

As Ohio’s education community prepares for the new 2020-2021 school year, particular attention is needed to ensure students with disabilities receive appropriate services. While districts and schools are required to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education to students with disabilities, they also are being challenged to explore new delivery modes and collaborate with families to meet each student’s individual needs. This webpage is created to guide district planning teams through the process of planning to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The individuals on the teams will be able to identify the resources, opportunities and challenges in their specific districts as they examine the considerations outlined here. As districts and schools plan for the new school year (2020-2021), the following areas should be considerations for planning purposes:  
For each of these focus areas, questions are presented to help guide district and building discussions as schools consider students who receive special education services. For planning to serve preschool children who receive special education, please refer to the guidance provided by the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning and School Readiness.
 
Multiple stakeholder groups, including special education administrators, special education teachers and related service personnel, provided input to the considerations outlined in this document.  
Before School Starts: Schools may utilize district or building teams to plan for the new school year. While engaged in planning efforts, the items in this document are for schools’ use during any planning meetings to bring relevant and critical questions for consideration to the conversation.


Curriculum

Research shows that students who receive special education services learn primarily through their interactions with teachers and content. High-quality curriculum and instructional materials serve as the foundation that will assist schools while planning for the 2020-2021 school year. Students who receive special education services interact with materials directly, and teachers use these materials to select topics, methods and sequences for teaching. Options and teachers’ capacity to create and publish their own materials continue to expand. Teams should discuss curriculum and instructional materials in the context of various forms of delivery such as online, remote or in the building. When these discussions happen, consider the following questions.
 
  1. In the 2020-2021 school year, what processes or procedures need to be put into place to ensure students who receive special education services have access to the general education curriculum?
    • What type of instructional materials did students who receive special education services use prior to the ordered school-building closure period, and how were these materials utilized or adapted during the ordered school-building closure period?
    • How did existing, adapted or new instructional materials created and utilized during the ordered school-building closure period impact the progress of students who receive special education services?
    • How was the progress of students who received special education services and supports during the ordered school-building closure period measured?
    • What support(s) will special education providers need to deliver the curriculum through various forms of instruction?
    • What curriculum-based resources are needed to support students who receive special education services? 
    • What supports will special education providers need in order to use multiple resources (such as accommodations, teaching strategies and assessment accommodations) with students who receive special education services?
    • How will students who receive special education services be provided the tools needed to access both the general curriculum and specially designed instruction as identified in their individualized education programs (IEPs)?
 
  1. How should the district or building plan to re-engage students who receive special education services who did not have access to remote learning or students who had access to remote learning but did not otherwise engage in remote learning during the ordered school-building closure period?
    • For students who receive special education services who did not have access to remote learning during the ordered school-building closure period, what supports and resources are needed to re-engage them in various learning environments moving into the 2020-2021 school year?
    • What data sources will be used to determine present levels of performance and monitor progress for students who receive special education services who did not have access to remote learning during the ordered school-building closure period?
    • To what degree did students who receive special education services who did not have access to remote learning during the ordered school-building closure period make progress?
    • If skill deficits are identified, what services and supports will students who receive special education services who did not have access to remote learning during the ordered school-building closure period need?
 
  1. How should districts and schools consider decisions regarding the need for recovery services or compensatory education services for students who receive special education services?
    • During the ordered school-building closure period, were services and supports provided as outlined in the student’s individualized education program (IEP)? How were the services and supports documented?
    • If services and supports were not provided as outlined in the student’s IEP, what good faith efforts were made to engage the student and the student’s family? How were these attempts documented?
    • How much service or support did the student receive in comparison to what is outlined in the student’s IEP? What impact did this have on progress in the general education curriculum and IEP goals?
    • Did parents whose children receive special education services decline services offered during the ordered school-building closure period? If so, how was this documented?
    • What data sources will be utilized to monitor progress and determine present levels of performance for students who receive special education services?
    • If skill deficits were identified, what services and supports will students who receive special education services need?
    • How will teachers and staff evaluate and determine recovery or compensatory education services on an individual student basis?
 

Assessment

These questions are designed for school teams to begin to consider progress evaluation tools, processes and techniques to evaluate a student who receives special education services and inform instruction to meet the individual student’s current needs. The district and parent decide if recovery services will be provided. Parent input can inform whether a full IEP meeting is needed. When these discussions happen, include the following questions for the team’s consideration.
 
  1. How will districts and schools assess a student’s present level of performance upon the start of the 2020-2021 school year?
    • How will students who receive special education services be assessed to determine their present levels of performance?
    • How will teachers continue instruction for students who receive special education services that is aligned with services outlined in each student’s IEP?
    • If skill deficits are identified, what intervention is needed for students who receive special education services?
 
  1. During the 2020-2021 school year, how will districts and schools conduct evaluations in light of COVID-19 concerns for students who receive special education services or students suspected of having disabilities?
    • What is the district’s formal, written process for intervention prior to evaluation for special education services?
    • How is the need for evaluation determined in ways that prevent disproportionality in identification of racial or ethnic groups to receive special education services?
    • How will districts and schools implement in-person assessments and evaluations while following the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Department of Health and local health departments?
    • What methods will be utilized by the district to conduct evaluations, whether in person or remotely or virtually?
    • How will districts and schools ensure assessments are conducted using standardized processes and procedures, thus maintaining reliability and validity of results from the instruments used?


Instruction

Students who receive special education services have diverse academic and functional needs. Specialized instruction is strategic, flexible, data driven and tied to strong core instruction with tiered or scaffolded supports. Consider these questions while designing instructional strategies for the 2020-2021 school year.
 
  1. How will districts and schools identify and provide students who receive special education services, as well as those at risk, with the supports and resources needed for various forms of instruction?
    • How will the district provide specially designed instruction and related services to students who receive special education services while following the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health?
    • How will intervention specialists and general education teachers co-plan and co-teach to provide students who receive special education services with in-class or remote instruction that meets each student’s needs and provides access to the general curriculum?
    • What additional training and resources will staff (general education teachers, intervention specialists and related service providers) need to create and deliver instruction that meets the needs of students who receive special education services?
    • How will students who receive special education services be provided with specially designed instruction, related services or assistive technology, as documented in their IEPs?
    • What services and supports are available or needed for students who receive special education services in a remote learning environment?
 
  1. How will staff provide services to students who receive special education services during the   these changing educational circumstances?  
    • How will districts and schools provide instruction, services and supports for any of the planned formats and instructional environments for students who receive special education services as outlined in their IEPs?
    • What materials and supports are available to students who receive special education services as they transition between various forms of instruction?  
    • How will teachers provide consistent instruction and appropriate levels of support when managing changing educational circumstances due to COVID-19?
 

Leadership, Administration and Governance

Leaders build the capacity of all staff to meet the diverse needs of students in more fully inclusive settings in which instruction is flexible and accessible to all learners. Leaders develop and support inclusive practices for students who receive special education services through implementing comprehensive institutional norms, supporting a culture of learning, planning for teacher capacity and professional development, and sustaining their commitment to innovation and learning. As the district and building(s) continue to design for the 2020-2021 school year, use these questions to consider inclusive leadership practices.
 
  1. How will allocate time for collaborative planning among to develop resources that support learning ?
    • How will teachers collaborate to assess the current needs of students and staff in planning for changing needs based on how instruction is being delivered during the 2020-2021 school year?
    • How will teachers collaborate to address delivery of services in various learning environments that impact retention, workload and other COVID-19 concerns of special education staff?
    • What professional learning can be provided to staff to equip them with the tools and knowledge to meet diverse student needs?
    • How can educational service centers, state support teams, associations and other professional organizations be used to support the district’s reset and restart efforts?


School Climate and Supports

School climate is the holistic context, including the quality of social connectedness and supportive practices that nurture inclusion and safety. Inclusion is not only the expectation that students who receive special education services are encouraged to participate and engaged in school activities (learning and social) to the maximum extent appropriate, but also supported with diverse practices and equitable access. Inclusion ensures students who receive special education services are provided with the individualized, specially designed instruction and supports necessary for their growth and development. While starting the process to explore and set conditions for the 2020-2021 school year related to school climate and supports, consider these questions to ensure equitable access and practices for students who receive special education services.
 
  1. How will districts and schools incorporate strategies and supports that meet the needs of school climate and supports for students who receive special education services?
    • How will students who receive special education services be provided with equitable opportunities to participate in the various learning environments?
    • How will staff support the establishment of an inclusive community to support the needs of students who receive special education services in consideration of changing needs based on how instruction is being delivered and various learning environments?
    • Has the district’s or school’s planning team utilized the Department’s Returning to School: Supporting the Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health of Students and Staff guidance and toolkit?
    • What strategies can districts and schools put in place to ensure all students who receive special education services are welcomed and feel secure in receiving the services and supports as outlined in their IEPs?
 
  1. How will districts and schools incorporate strategies and supports that meet the needs of the whole child, including mental health and academic intervention?
    • What community services and organizations are connected to the district for support and how will staff be able to access these supports?
    • How will students be provided with equal opportunities to share their talents, strengths and interests within the learning environment?
    • How will teachers support and integrate culturally responsive practices in a remote learning environment?
    • Are teachers using trauma-sensitive practices to support remote learning?  
    • Has the staff reviewed the Department’s Social-Emotional Learning toolkit?
 
  1. How will districts and schools maintain a safe environment and meet social distancing guidelines for staff and students with behavioral challenges who may need intervention?
    • Are all staff familiar with the protocols for Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports?
    • Are staff members familiar with the restraint and seclusion updated requirements as set forth by the Department?


Community and Parent Engagement

One of the most effective means of ensuring academic success is to engage parents in their students’ education. A knowledge of the surrounding community, including partnerships and resources that support students who receive special education services, can benefit the overall educational experience. When parents and educators work collaboratively as partners, it enhances the educational experiences of students who receive special education services. Use the following questions to discuss and develop the most appropriate engagement practices for parents and community.
 
  1. How can districts and schools engage parents in the evaluation process, IEP development, meetings and district and school activities?
    • What procedures and guidance will be needed to allow flexibility with conducting special education meetings and activities during the 2020-2021 school year?
    • What modes of communication will be used to engage parents in their students’ special education services and supports and how will these communication attempts be documented? How can schools and districts engage parents at times and places that are most convenient for the parents?
 
  1. How can districts and schools support parents of students who receive special education services and are unable to or choose not to return to the school building?
    • How will the district or building(s) communicate all options for special education delivery and supports during the 2020-2021 school year?
    • How will the IEP team assist with parents’ understanding of the delivery of instruction and academic accommodations and supports in the home environment?
    • What resources, supports and materials are needed to provide home instruction services to students for whom this least restrictive environment is appropriate?
    • How will districts and schools ensure the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education when students require home instruction services?


College and Career Readiness

Each Child, Our Future aims to ensure every child is challenged, prepared and empowered to become a resilient, lifelong learner who achieves success as defined in multiple ways. Transition planning and services will support the postsecondary training and education, competitive integrated employment and independent living goals of students who receive special education services. As secondary transition plans are created for students who receive special education services, during the 2020-2021 school year, please consider the following questions.
 
  1. What strategies will districts and schools incorporate in the reset and restart plan to ensure students receiving special education services are college and career ready?
    • Has the district and school reviewed the Department’s resources regarding graduation and determined if students who receive special education services are on track for graduation?
    • How will students who receive special education services learn about and engage in college and career opportunities during the 2020-2021 school year?
    • How will students who receive special education services learn of and be provided support for scholarship opportunities?
 
  1. How can districts and schools provide secondary transition services and activities that will enable students who receive special education services to make progress on postsecondary goals in the areas of postsecondary education and training, competitive integrated employment, and independent living in various learning environments?
    • How will age-appropriate transition assessments be used to provide information about student preferences, interests, needs and strengths for each postsecondary goal?  
    • How will student progress be monitored, documented and reported for completing transition services and activities?
    • How will staff provide transition services in the various learning environments and effectively communicate with the student and parents, if applicable, regarding the transition services throughout the 2020-2021 school year?
    • What process will be used to ensure all staff designated as providers of secondary transition services (intervention specialists, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, etc.) are prepared and trained to use technology and other resources to effectively deliver secondary transition services?
    • How can districts and schools effectively communicate with employers, universities and other agencies, such as Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and county boards of developmental disabilities, to ensure students who receive special education services continue community-based career opportunities to earn graduation credentials?


Operations

The three core principles of Each Child, Our Future (equity, partnerships and quality schools) are essential to the operations of the district and building(s). Having a strong core foundation for the operations and logistics of a district is crucial as schools begin the 2020-2021 school year. Direct operations and logistics ensure students who receive special education services are included in all aspects of education. The following questions will support discussions relative to operations and system structures for the 2020-2021 school year.
 
  1. How will districts and schools provide guidance and procedures that address the needs of students who receive special education services and staff who support these students?
    • What assessment must occur to determine the individual needs of students who receive special education services, including students who are medically fragile or have chronic illnesses, to determine any additional supports and resources they need in various learning environments? 
 
  1. How will districts and schools develop and implement guidance and expectations for staff, students, parents and community partners related to health and safety measures?
    • Will additional processes be needed for students who receive special education services to adhere to the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health?
    • How does the school’s or district’s face covering policy consider language acquisition, specifically for students with language or hearing impairments (facial expression, lip reading)?
    • What visual supports or tools can be used to communicate and still maintain physical distancing?
 
  1. How will districts and schools determine the health and safety needs for students who receive special education services who also require special transportation as outlined in their IEPs?
    • How will districts and schools adhere to the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health for the transportation of students who have transportation services listed in the IEP?
    • How will transportation providers and transportation staff be trained to support students who receive special education services?
    • How does the operations plan for transportation take into consideration the provision of a student’s IEP to ensure individual student needs are met?
 
  1. How will districts and schools develop fiscal and other contingency plans that include considerations for students who receive special education services during the 2020-2021 school year?
    • How will districts and schools ensure special education staff have the materials, resources and training to provide services and supports to students who receive special education services?
    • How will districts and schools ensure substitutes for special education staff are appropriately licensed, trained and prepared?
    • How will an operations plan for instructional delivery take into consideration the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education to ensure individual student needs are met?

Last Modified: 8/7/2020 4:09:04 PM